Recycling batteries key to EU's electric car drive, says minister

This photo taken on March 12, 2021 shows a worker with car batteries at a factory for Xinwangda Electric Vehicle Battery Co, which makes lithium batteries for electric cars.
This photo taken on March 12, 2021 shows a worker with car batteries at a factory for Xinwangda Electric Vehicle Battery Co, which makes lithium batteries for electric cars. Copyright STR/AFP
By Euronews
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Brussels wants the EU to become one of the world's top lithium battery producers as part of its push to get more electric cars on Europe's roads.

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The European Union must ensure that the life cycle of lithium batteries is maximised, according to a Portuguese minister, as the bloc looks to become one of the world's top producers of the component.

João Pedro Matos Fernandes, the minister for the environment and climate action, was speaking to reporters as the EU's environment ministers met in the Belgian capital, where discussion of the Commission's batteries proposal - that was presented last December - was high on the agenda.

Brussels wants Europe to be the second-largest manufacturer of batteries - a key item in electric cars - just behind the world's biggest producer, China.

The Portuguese minister says that recycling lithium batteries will be crucial to achieving this goal, in order to maximise the domestic availability of the raw materials used in their production, which predominantly comes from Asia.

"It is essential to have a regulation that defines well what these batteries are, above all, thought about according to their entire life cycle," Fernandes explained.

"That is, a battery exists much longer than the time it is used and it is essential that we know how to recycle batteries."

The batteries proposal is linked to the EU's landmark Green Deal, which aims to make the bloc climate neutral by 2050. If it is to do so, then switching to electric cars will be essential.

Patrick de Metz from the battery manufacturer Saft, told Euronews that the component target is likely to be a difficult one, but it can be achieved.

"There are several initiatives in different European countries to source materials from our countries, our lands, but also there is a strong effort coming from the recycling industry because we need materials coming from recycled batteries to feed into our manufacturing plants," Metz said.

"So those two sources should help us bridge the gap between the available capacity of today and what we shall need over the next few years."

Brussels aims to significantly increase the number of electric cars on European roads to 7 million by 2025, up from more than 1 million currently.

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